Gary Hamel, speaking at a big customer conference where we both were presenting said, “In a time of accelerating change we are getting stupider by the moment.” I’ve never forgotten it because I agree. If you’re not getting better you cease being good.
I recently attended the WorkHuman conference in AZ. It was my second year there – a conference with real people wanting to make a real difference in other human beings’ experiences at work. These people got it goin on!
I find it odd, crazy-stupid-odd, and pitifully heartbreaking that as 21st century humans we can’t put our brilliant selves together and figure out how to treat each other with respect at work. While employee engagement numbers inched up another percentage point this last year, Gallup still reports a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged in their work.
The WorkHuman conference gave haven to those who find ways to engage and energize their employees. These folks choose optimism over pessimism and look to the workplace as a place where we want to and can be the fullest expression of best selves.
My first stop on Day 1 was to see Dr. Christine Porath speak. She’s the leading expert on Incivility in the Workplace. I am a real fan of her work. She helps people understand what happens when they let incivility slip into their culture.
Today I want to share some sobering thoughts with you. (They are important especially if you haven’t done a lot to keep that good culture you created, nourished.)
Watch out for people who are diminishing others with their behavior and language. Be very clear about your company values and how they express. Be vigilant to make sure you are living up to your brand promise (which you so carefully constructed.)
Social media has given everybody a voice. That means nobody is managing your media but your customers and your employees.
Gotcha. Transparency is happening, even if you haven’t mandated it.
If you as a leader don’t have listening posts (town hall meetings, employee surveys, mistake of the month club etc.) and aren’t paying attention to little disrespectful behaviors that edge you from happy –to civil – to mostly civil – to not so much civil, be careful! Incivility can sneak up on you.
Negative news – because it plays into our biological negativity bias which keeps us safe from sabre toothed tigers – wears away at optimism and eventually at civility
According to Dr. Porath in organizations where civility drops, cognitive ability drops by 50% and creativity by 33%.
People with negative or nasty attitudes infect an organization. Those behaviors cause the executive function of your brain to shut down while the primal brain is narrowly focused on “who’s to blame” mode.
Blame and shame cultures whip up a potent fertilizer for stress induced stupidity.
When you are stressed or angry for more than 5 minutes, according to research done at HeartMath.org, your immune system shuts down for 6 – 8 hours.
That is truly something to ponder. You don’t only become stupider you are in danger of getting sicker.
What happens to negative energy? You know the answer to that – it’s contagious. It’s as if we had to discharge negative energy on to another so we can manage the intensity of it ourselves. It’s part of our old brain wiring.
Too many negative emotions at work put people at risk for illness – but that’s not the worst of it.
Negative emotions brought home are responsible for divorces, chronic illness, distressed children, and kids that become bullies.
Just witnessing incivility at work makes people 3 times less likely to help or and 50% less likely to share resources. Did you ever see the day where you might have to put “Be Civil” in the handbook?
I can hear you all screaming, “Yes!”
The # 1 thing people want from their leaders is RESPECT.
I think we can figure out how to make that happen, don’t YOU? In what 3 areas of your management practice might you be more respectful?
PS Want to learn to become a Positive Energizer at work? If you’ve EVER been thinking about taking my Practice of Positive Leadership course – now is the time to grab your copies!! We’ll be making some changes and the prices will be increasing.